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Spatial Relationships between Canopy Structure and Understory Vegetation of an Old-Growth Douglas-Fir Forest | Abstract
Forest Research: Open Access

Forest Research: Open Access
Open Access

ISSN: 2168-9776

+32-466-90-04-51

Abstract

Spatial Relationships between Canopy Structure and Understory Vegetation of an Old-Growth Douglas-Fir Forest

Bo Song, Jiquan Chen and Thomas M Williams

Canopy structure and spatial distributions of understory vegetation are known to be closely correlated in forest community. The primary objective of this study is to examine the spatial relationships between the canopy heterogeneity and understory vegetation at multiple scales in an old-growth Douglas fir forest. A 12 ha plot located in the T.T. Munger Experimental Forest of Washington was stem-mapped, and the understory vegetation was surveyed along two 400 m transects by species and life form groups. Canopy structure of the plot was modeled utilizing a stem map and a crown geometry model. The three-dimensional canopy characteristics derived from the models were then used to assess the effects of canopy structure on understory vegetation at multiple resolutions using correlation and wavelet analysis techniques. Correlation results showed significant associations of understory species with the three-dimensional canopy structure. The majority of dominant herb species were highly associated with canopy opening, and they were more severely affected by lower canopy layers (heights of 10-35 m) than by dominant-codominant layers (heights of 40-50 m). The saplings of western hemlock had a significant negative association with lower canopy layers, while vine maples and the saplings of Pacific silver fir were positively correlated with dominant-codominant canopy layers. Wavelet analysis indicated that the relationship between canopy structure and understory vegetation was highly scale-dependent, i.e., understory variables responded differently to the heterogeneity of canopy patterns at different scales.

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